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September 2016 - Posts
I'm going to try to get back in the habit of posting at least once a week. The beginning of the year is always so busy! I haven't shared a favorite high school book for awhile, so I'm going to introduce this excellent book. I had read a few positive reviews of The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, and although I knew it was realistic fiction from the reviews, the title kept making me think it was fantasy... there are so many kings, queens, and princesses in all those fantasy series! Anyway, this is definitely realistic fiction, not fantasy,(BTW, the title comes from the fact that main character Dill's father is a snake-handling preacher.) but I think regardless of favorite genre this profound story of friendship and growing up should attract many readers. Dill, Lydia, and Travis haven't always had much in their small Tennessee town, but they've always had each other. As their senior year of high school begins, Dill is both excited for a future beyond his small town and dreading the distance life after high school will bring to the three friends. As they each dream of what comes next, they have to deal with the reality of now which includes struggles with poverty, abuse, and an unexpected tragedy. If this sounds dark, sometimes it is, but it is also hopeful and beautifully written. The small town setting and deep friendships should make this a book to which many Archie readers can relate.
Posted by kparker  On Sep 19, 2016 at 12:08 PM
  
I added this book to the library last spring after reading several wonderful reviews of it. At the time I hadn't read it yet, and when I showed it to students, some of them found the cover photo kind of strange and weren't willing to give it a try. Now that I've read it myself, hopefully I can get it into the hands of more readers because it is an excellent book. The narrator is 10-year old Jackson. He's looking forward to 5th grade, but he's also feeling a little worried. There seem to be problems at home: piles of unpaid bills and quietly arguing parents who haven't had steady jobs or reliable health insurance since his dad got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. When a human-sized cat who walks on his hind legs, Crenshaw, shows up again, it reminds Jackson of a time several years ago when "it" happened, and his imaginary friend Crenshaw helped him cope. Now that Crenshaw's back, Jackon's afraid. Is "it" going to happen again? Will he get to go to the same school this year? Will his parents tell him what is really going on? Is everything going to be okay? There are no easy answers for Jackson as his family struggles to avoid homelessness. This was an eye-opening story for me about how a family who does many things right can still end up in desperate circumstances. Although it's sometimes tough to see the plight from the eye's of a child, reading a book like Crenshaw can bring understanding and compassion to any reader. I highly recommend this for our upper elementary readers who like realistic stories and want to learn what life is like for others.
Posted by kparker  On Sep 02, 2016 at 8:21 AM